AMHERST, MA – The sixth-ranked Amherst women's lacrosse team came up short in the second half, taking just five shots and netting one goal, as it suffered an 11-3 loss to visiting third-ranked Middlebury College on Saturday afternoon. The Jeffs trailed just 4-2 at the break, but allowed a 6-0 Middlebury run to open the second half and put the game out of reach. Amherst falls to 11-2 (7-2 NESCAC) and secures the second seed in the NESCAC Championship tournament. They will host No. 7-seed Wesleyan University tomorrow (Sunday) at noon. The Panthers improve to 12-1 (9-0 NESCAC), earning the top-seed in the tournament and a first-round bye.
Amherst controlled the tempo early, as senior Scotty Hanley (Sparks, MD) snatched the opening draw and the Jeffs staged a patient 3:40 offensive possession before junior Liz Wise (Scarsdale, NY) fed rookie Mary Noonan (W. Roxbury, MA) for the opening score. The Amherst defense was outstanding, as juniors Emery Sweeney (Darien, CT) and Maggie Roth (Berwyn, PA) caused three early turnovers and prevented the Panthers from setting up their offense until the 23-minute mark. Senior Michele Bergofsky (Exeter, NH) knotted the score at 1-1 with an unassisted tally at 22:21.
Both defensive units came up huge in the first stanza, but turnovers in the midfield meant neither squad could maintain command at the start. Bergofsky dished out assists to classmates Elizabeth Renehan (St. Davids, PA) and Alison Perencevich (Concord, NH) at 15:03 and 9:30, but Amherst junior Alyssa Briody (Hopewell, NJ) narrowed the lead to one, 3-2, converting a feed from first-year Amy Craig (Denver, CO) at 8:14. Perencevich added another score with four minutes remaining, and Amherst possessed the ball into the half, but couldn't get off an effective shot.
Amherst controlled the draw all game, as Noonan and Hanley each grabbed three draws, but was plagued by turnovers, committing 22 for the day. Renehan added a tally at 26:13, and senior defender Margaret Chute (Pawtucket, RI) tried to light the spark for the Jeffs, drawing a charge and getting three of her four ground balls early in the second stanza, but the Middlebury attack was relentless, scoring six straight goals, including a pair each from Renehan and Perencevich. Noonan notched a free-position score at 9:28 to end the run and Amherst got a few good looks at the cage in the waning minutes but it was too-little, too-late, and Middlebury ran out the clock with a four-minute stall to end the game.
Sweeney posted an incredible defensive performance, tallying six ground balls and three caused turnovers, while Chute and junior Rachel Lewis (Denver, CO) each scooped four ground balls. Renehan and Perencevich each finished with four goals to lead the Panthers, while Bergofsky added a goal and a trio of assists. Amherst sophomore goaltender Linda McEvoy (Rochester, NY) and Middlebury counterpart Blair Bowie (Washington, DC) each posted three stops.